RealNews

A Slow, Deliberate Process of Weighing 9/11 Awards

In a well-appointed conference room with wraparound windows, high above the streets of Manhattan, one judge presides over what some families say is a singularly sad, deeply intimidating institution: the unofficial Supreme Court for the families of Sept. 11 victims who are in line to receive financial awards. here are no gavels or robes, no jurors or bailiffs. Sometimes, only one relative shows up for a businesslike proceeding that can be as brief as 15 minutes. Sometimes, though, there can be an entire battalion of relatives, lawyers and forensic experts who fold heartbreaking videos and head-hurting statistical presentations into two-and-a-half-hour crucibles during which even foreign-language interpreters have been moved to tears. The judge is Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master overseeing the multibillion-dollar federal Victim Compensation Fund, and what unfolds in that conference room are the last desperate appeals by families to have their awards increased. Full Story

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